On a beautiful spring day in March, pupils, staff, parents and governors assembled for the Opening Ceremony of our newly created Outdoor Learning environment, Forest School.
The ribbon was cut by TV’s Michael Collie, known from BBC Midlands Today and Countryfile, in particular. Michael is also a parent of four girls who came to Winterfold, before going on to Bromsgrove School.
Speaking with his hands covered in mud, Michael said “It’s brilliant to see the children at Winterfold just enjoying nature and the environment – they’ve been showing me what they can do simply with mud and there’s a lot of it about!
“I love the fact that an old bomb crater, which has been covered in undergrowth for years, has now been re-discovered and turned into a fantastic natural water environment, for plants, animals and pupils to enjoy.
As he cut the ribbon with Reception pupil Grace McNaughton – picked because she was wearing the dirtiest wellies, Michael Collie joked with the children that he thought the hide that had been built, was for children to hide from the teachers. “They soon corrected me,” he said, “and told me it was to go birdwatching – thank goodness for that!”
Michael talked about his time on Countryfile, when he filmed all over the UK and abroad, going to places that were “wet, windy, muddy, sunny, snowy, blizzarding and wonderful”. He urged the pupils to enjoy and care for the environment, noting that perhaps we hadn’t always done that well so far.
Looking back on his reasons for sending his daughters to Winterfold School, he commented “This sums up what Winterfold is all about – letting children take risks, within reason, and have fun. This is a school that spends money on the things that matter and creates a brilliant environment in the classroom and outside – and the result is the confident and shining, happy, slightly muddy faces I’ve seen today.”
After visiting the new shelter, which will be an outdoor classroom, Michael Collie, together with the Chair of Governors Paul West, Governor Geoff Strong and Mrs Strong, guests and the Friends of Winterfold committee had a tour of the new site which has been put back to nature. The Friends of Winterfold have funded a bird hide, tool shed and the new Forest School suits for the children. Plans are afoot to plant a herb garden, vegetable patch and an orchard.
The pond is already well established, with flora and fauna in abundance. A jetty has been built so that the children can enjoy lessons in pond dipping.
Headmistress Denise Toms said “Our new Forest School is an outstanding facility for our young pupils to explore the outdoors and enhance their learning and development. We look forward to taking groups of children to explore the Forest School area with pond, orchard, bird hide, shelter and fire pit. We aim to motivate, inspire and give the children a positive outdoor experience”.